As an indie author myself, with over 200 books presently generating income on autopilot for me (admittedly some more than others!) I know how important it is to be able to create the best looking books you can, with the least amount of hassle.
Technical headaches, design challenges and software issues present many stumbling blocks for indie authors, and there is nothing worse than discovering that your magnificent new book looks like a dog's dinner once it has been uploaded to the digital book stores. Enter Vellum.
Vellum is without compare the easiest and quickest way to create and generate publish-ready digital ebooks that look polished and professional from cover to cover.
Even more amazing is that Vellum allows you to do this with no design skills, zero technical know-how regarding html, clickable T.O.C., or any of the geekish horrors that may present themselves in your journey from your book idea to published-and-selling.
Let me walk you through Vellum's incredibly easy and intuitive features so you can enjoy these benefits for yourself:
You will enjoy...
As a fellow indie author right there in the self-publishing trenches with you, I cannot wait to see you indie and share my tips with you, and help you get up and running with Vellum as quickly and painlessly as possible.
I am including this video for anyone who does not actually know what Vellum does.
Vellum is a Mac software that can be used to write, style, format and generate perfect publish ready ebooks.
It is so simple to use that I am able to begin a brand new project, bring in my content, add a cover and the book info, standard front and back matter pages, style, format and generate a book in just a few minutes. In record time I have my publish ready mobi or pub file.
Obviously in real world use I would give more attention to each part of this process, but even then it is super quick. In fact, what I have done is create Vellum templates with all of my front and back matter already in place, my styles and other info already chosen, so it really is just a matter of adding the actual manuscript to the Vellum template project. My book formatting, styling and generation takes me less than two minutes using these methods.
There is so much more to see and tell about how amazing and helpful Vellum is, and I cover all of this in the course for you.
Vellum is available from vellum.pub and comes with a few different pricing options. By far the most economic if you are planning on publishing more than a few books is to pick up the full unlimited package so you can churn out as many books as you need to at no further cost.
Vellum has a few pricing options. The app itself is free to downlaod, so you can get started right away and become familiar with how the app works at no cost.
To generate your final digital files, ready to upload and publish does cost though. Vellum charges per generation, or you can buy a full licence and pay one time and generate as many files as you want to. This is defintely the most economic option in the long run.
What I share in this video is not a guarantee that you can get your first file generated for free, but it is something that worked for me so I could get a handle on the entire Vellum process and product before shelling out the full cost of an unlimited licence.
I contacted the Vellum developers and explained that I was looking to purchase the Unlimited licence, but before committing the funds I wanted to actually generate one of my own books so I could see how it worked, and what the final results actually looked like.
They got back in touch and offered me a coupon for one free generation.
As I say, not guaranteed, but if you too want to run through the whole process before you buy you could maybe try the same.
Vellum is so unique and so powerful that even die-hard PC users sometimes engineer ways to use Vellum without owning a Mac computer.
The best way I know to do this is through www.macincloud.com where you can set up a virtual Mac and install your software right there in the cloud. There is a cost involved to do this so be aware of that before making any decisions.
A friend of mine, a PC user through-and-through, after seeing what Vellum could do for them, actually purchased a second-hand Mac Mini just so she could use Vellum to generate her books.
Once you see how powerful it is, and how useful it can be for your publishing business, this may be an option you want to consider also.
Vellum has some powerful features that I know you are going to love. You can create a complete book in Vellum if you want to, everything is included to be able to do that. In my personal workflow (I have a few of them) I prefer to do my writing in either Scrivener or Word, and then import that into Vellum.Vellum is slick and intentionally unencumbered with bells and whistles. The software has been designed in way that removes the flab and presents users with only those elements that are essential to produce great looking books time and again.
Nevertheless, there are some things that you need to be aware of before you get started, and it all begins here on the Dashboard. Pretty soon you will be very familiar with the options that are available. A true Vellum rockstar.
There are just a couple of ways to add chapters and elements to your projects. Vellum makes it easy and keep confusion to a minimum. Here's how to add new chapters to your books.
This lesson almost seems too basic to even include, but here it is nevertheless...
Chapters and pages in your books can have Titles and Subtitles applied to them. There are a number of options and elements included here and I'm going to walk through them with you here.
I was told by one user that in certain styles the number of words/characters you can add to a subtitle may be limited and will not render correctly. This is not an issue I have experienced myself but if you do have problems with things not showing the way you expect it may be that you are trying to stuff too many words into the subtitle of your chapter. Just a headsup so you don't end up banging your head against a wall wondering what's wrong like my friend said she did.
The elements that you can add inline as part of your text add beautiful flair to your Vellum generated books. There are several ways to style and add elements such as ornamental breaks, block quotes and more to your books. It's simple, quick, and a click of the mouse away.
Vellum is not a page layout program, but does have sufficient image options for the majority of author's needs. Again, Vellum concentrates on keeping these options consistent and simple throughout so your books never end up looking like a dog's dinner of conflicting styles.
In this lesson you will quickly see how Vellum can work for you and your image inclusion needs.
The import feature of Vellum to me is the best thing of any. Cool and clever recognition during your docx imports auto splits chapters and assigns elements. It will certain convert paragraph breaks to ornamental breaks and more. All this happens with no intervention at all from yourself.
At times there are minor mistakes Vellum might make so generally a handful of tweaks will be required, but all-in-all I think you will be amazed at this stellar time-saving functionality.
My writing and publishing workflow includes a number of different programs. I generally write and creaft my books in Scrivener (if you don't yet know and use Scrivener you should make a point to heck it out, its the best writer's tool in a million ways). I then compile as a Word doc ready to import into Vellum for styling and formatting ready to publish.
I also work with a number of ghostwriters. Generally they work in Word so I have them create Vellum ready docx files that can quickly be dragged into Vellum so it can work its magic.
Vellum provides a simple way to track your word count, both for individual pages and chapters, or your complete book project from cover to cover.
Just a few writer's helps...
In this section of the training we will walk through of each element type and how to add them to your project.
Elements are a big feature in your Vellum workflow. Every thing that you add to your Vellum project will be an 'element' of some kind. As documents are added to your book you specify their function within the whole - it could be a chapter, a prologue or About the Author for example.
Vellum has boiled down the essentials of each element to make their inclusion as simple and intuitive as possible, as well as being ready for you to add your own flair and flavor.
Each element also includes background meta data that tells Kindle or other platforms what each page is supposed to be.
FYI TIP: Because Kindle determines the start page of your book automatically (generally at Chapter 1) you may find that it bypasses your prologue and any other front matter. I get around this (I want people to read my front matter!) by making the front matter Chapter elements in my books. It may not be the most elegant way, but it does ensure that your front matter is seen and read by your readers. A chapter in a Vellum book does not necessarily need to have a number by the way. See the video about chapters to see about making a chapter numberless.
Sometimes you may want to change the nature of an element in your book, or something may have been assigned the wrong element type when it was imported. Converting elements to something different is just a couple of clicks. Here's how...
At times you will want to add links in your Vellum project.
These could be links to your other books, to a Facebook page or an authro website.
Vellum again makes this an easy process. It also adds geo-friendly links that will automatically detect where your reader is based and send them to the appropriate store, as well as giving you the option to bake your Amazon Associates affilate ID right into every click.
UPDATE: In the most recent Vellum update the ability to create empty Parts and Volumes was removed from the app. This is not a massive gamechanger, and it's removal does not take anything away from ease of use and Part & Volume creation.
I left the legacy training video here for your info and for anyone using an older version of Vellum which of course still retains the ability to create an empty part or volume and then populate them.
Parts and volumes are amazing, especially when it comes to box set creation or complex hierarchies. Vellum takes the technical headache out of big book creation in ways that will make you want to dance around the room for joy!
Elements within your project can be moved around, nested and arranged with ease. You can also merge chapters and more with clarity and control.
Every book publshed to Kindle requires a working clickable T.O.C. at the front end of the book.
Creating a beautiful and functional T.O.C. can be a real headache at times, but Vellum takes care of everything in the background for you.
Right down to complex TOC hierarchies like volumes and parts, no extra work is needed on your part. Vellum to autogenrate this for you and slap it at the front of your generated books ready for readers to clearly navigate without problems.
Once your content is in place, your books can be styled from cover to cover in just a few clicks. Honestly, there is not an easier way to make your books look awesome!
In this short module I will go through all you need to know to style your books ready to output for publication.Vellum provides so many configurations for the overall internal styling of your book. This could have been overwheliming but the way they have set things up is genius and ensures that your books remain consistent and beautiful throughout.
Essentially you have Master Styles, and then element styles within those. Styles within sytles.
In just a few clicks you will have your entire book beautifully sytles from cover to cover, with every element working togther with the others to make your book look just as good as it reads.
The number of options available may at first seem overwhelming. You may also want to make a record of what styles you use for a particular book or pen name or genre. These could be for your own records or even to send to a Virtual Assistant to create your Vellum books on your behalf.
The PDF style sheets I have created cover all of the Master and element styles currently available so you have a quick reference resource should you ever need one.
To download the Vellum Quick Reference Stylesheet Package go to the lesson in the BONUS section where you will find the link for these helpful sheets, and the Seamless Vellum template
Your book info and cover can be added at any time in the book creation process. LIke everything Vellum it is simple and quick to do so.
Your book's title, subtitle, publisher and ISBN go here. Again, quick and easy is the order of the day.
Because a cover is required before you upload and publish, Vellum bakes it into the bestseller pie. Simple drag-n-drop of a jpeg is all that's needed.
I generally create my covers using Kindle's recommended size guidelines which are 1563 x 2500 pixels, and 72ppi. I ten save these for web in Photoshop at 51% quality to keep the quality decent but reduce the file size. These settings have been working well for me.
Vellum automatically alerts you if the size requirements are not met.
As you have already seen Vellum makes book creation, styling and formatting uber easy.
But what happens once all of that lovely work is done and you are ready to publish?
First you may want to preview your book to make sure it looks as you expect it to, and then you will need to generate the correct files ready to upload to the variety of digital publishing platforms.
As you would expect, this is one click easy.Vellum allows you to view your project as it will look on a variety of popular devices. This again is a great timesaver, and helpful to check that your chosen styles are singing from the pages.
The final frontier before you actually upload your finished book to KIndle, iBooks and other platforms. One click and BOOM! - all of the necessary files will be ready and waiting for you in the folder of your choice.
This is a very quick headsup for those of you who are uploading your mobi files to Kindle.
An issue that I and others have experienced is that the native Previewer in the KDP Dashboard will not work with an uploaded mobi generated through Vellum.
Don't freak out - the file is fine and will work well on your reader's Kindle and other devices. The issue (and I am not sure exactly why it is) is with the Previewer not playing nice with Vellum genrated files.
Of course, you will still want to preview your book before hitting the Publish button.
The way I choose to do this is to choose the Preview On My Computer option.
This will download the processed file that KDP have on their server, and if you have the Kindle app installed on your computer you can just double-click to open it and check it over.
As you already know, when a book is uploaded to Kindle a small portion of the book is pulled and becomes a previewable Look Inside that people can browse when buying books in the Amazon store.
You will notice that the styles you have applied to your Vellum book do not show in the Look Inside pages on the Kindle store the way you might expect them to.
Do not be concerned about this. The book itself, once purchased or borrowed will render correctly and all of your beautiful styles will show perfectly on the pages just as you planned.
The issue is with the Kindle Look Inside previewer (not with your book file!) which for some reason strips the styling from the book and makes it look rather ordinary.
At one time the idea and process of crearing boxsets was a little daunting. Now it's a breeze.
Vellum takes all of the labor intensive headaches out of the process and turns bundling your books into a drag-and-drop dream.
Literally, 5 minutes is all you need to create a publish-worthy boxset of multiple titles.
Whether you work alone or use assistants, I encourage you to implement systems into your workflow to ease any friction that the technical aspects of book publishing may present.
So many people get hung up on the technical details of things and overcomplicate the process of moving from manuscript to published and selling.
One of the reasons I love Vellum so much is that it provides the perfect tool for simple seamless workflow.
You can use Vellum for your entire flow and actually write your book, format and publish all in one program, or you can utilize it as part of a broader workflow that includes other software.
My Personal Workflow (me writing)
Scrivener > Word > (Editor) > Vellum > Kindle
For me, if I am writing myself, I use Scrivener. There is no better tool for an indie author to actually write their book that Scrivener in my humble opinion. I then compile that book as Word and import into Vellum for formatting ready for upload to Kindle. Generally I will have an editor do a basic edit and check of the Word document before import to Vellum.
My Personal Workflow (someone else writing)
Word file from writer > Editor > Vellum > Kindle
I also use other writers. All of them use Word for their writing and send me completed files as a Word document. I have instructed them precisely how I want this file to be laid out so when it imports to Vellum it does so without any hitches.
I then send the document to an editor for a basic edit and check through.
The editor will then send the corrected file back to me, and this is the file I then import into Vellum, ready to format, generate and upload to Kindle.
Simplify, systematize, document and outsource
The real key to create seamless workflow is to simplify as much as you can without compromising your quality. Ask what is essential and what is a preference. An example for me is that I like to place a personal word from the author at the front of my books - this is a preference not an essential, but my reason behind it is compelling enough to warrant the extra time and effort required to place it there. There are other elements that I used to include in my books that I no longer do. Under scrutiny I realized they were not essential to me nor to my readers.
Try and systematize your workflow as much as you possibly can. Remember, every decision you have to make adds friction to the process of book creation and publication, and takes energy away from the most important use of your time, attention and energy - actually writing and selling the books themselves.
Developing systems (and be honest, in our business they are simpel and few) really comes down to you giving proper detailed attention to how you do things ONE time (and it does take time to properly get granular and think critically and practically through your entire process), but that time will pay for itself 10X over if you do so.
Secondly, it is important that you document the processes within your publishing workflow so you can get others to take on tasks that do not require your personal time an attention. An interesting by-product of this for me is that it has forced me to really consider carefully every detail of my process and look for simpler less complicated ways to accomplish them.
To Download The Template Click the Link in the Next lesson
Here is the basic template that I use for the majority of my books. Please be aware that the template will need to be styled and amended to suit your own needs.
The Quick Reference Stylesheets are a helpful way to quickly see all of the options within any given style, and also to keep a record of styles that you have previously used so you can rapidly duplicate your awesome looking results!
David Lee Martin has a proven track record of producing training materials that actually get RESULTS for his students.
The real power is in the fact that what he teaches, he actually does himself in his own flourishing writing and publishing business. His training works in the trenches of real world business building and content creation.
But he has not always enjoyed the level of success he enjoys today. David has faced the same frustrations and roadblocks that most writers and entrepreneurs encounter as they forge their way forward. This honesty and transparency is apparent in all of his training products.
He is a no-fluff teacher with years of experience, who loves helping others move swiftly down their own unique pathway to success.
David is married to Larna, and they are blessed with four flourishing children. His greatest weakness is good coffee and a tendency to get carried away with his creative ideas!